Visa Canada
Canadian government new rules on undeclared dependents and abuse sufferers


What would your answers be to the following three questions?

  1. Are you a newcomer to Canada who is experiencing abuse at your workplace? Perhaps because you are on a temporary work permit and fear losing your job and having to leave the country if you complain?
  2. Are you a newcomer to the country who is experiencing domestic violence and/or other forms of abuse at your home?
  3. Are you one of the following?
    • You are applying to be sponsored as a:
      • Spouse
      • Common-law partner, or
      • Dependent child
    • AND your sponsor DIDN’T declare you when they became a permanent resident:
      • As a Resettled refugee
      • After being granted refugee protection in Canada
      • As a dependent of a refugee or protected person
      • After being sponsored as a:
        • Spouse
        • Common-law partner
        • Conjugal partner
        • Dependent child.

If so, then you may qualify for a couple of new initiatives by Canada’s immigration authorities that will take the form of immediate changes to regulations as well as a Pilot Project over the coming 2 years. They are divided into three main areas:

Abusive Conditions at Work

Work and temporary resident permits for newcomers to Canada who are facing abusive situations in their work environment. As IRCC states, a worker in Canada has a right to a healthy and safe working environment. Any employer which abuses workplace safety and worker rights is potentially subject to a compliance inspection. As of June 4, 2019, any worker suffering this type of situation can apply for an open work permit in order to remain in Canada, leave their current abusive employer immediately, and also be able to work for another, new employer. As soon as an open work permit is issued under this new rule, the employer accused of abuse will automatically be subject to the compliance inspection.

Domestic Violence

As of July 26, 2019, any immigrant to Canada facing a situation of domestic violence can apply for a fee-exempt Temporary Resident Permit that will provide them with legal status to remain in Canada and will also include a work permit and health coverage.

Please note that this only applies to foreign nationals whose legal status in Canada is dependent on an abusive spouse or partner, and who have not yet received permanent resident status. It is not available if you are a foreign national living abroad.

Undeclared Family Members

As of September 9, 2019, the people who qualify under the conditions outlined in Question 3 above, may be able to sponsor previously undeclared family members. This means overturning a longstanding rule that has previously meant that the discovery of undeclared family members resulted in being banned from sponsoring anyone. Again, this rule only applies to refugees, protected persons, and people sponsored to come to Canada, as outlined above. This reunification initiative will take the form of a pilot project which will last for 2 years until September 9, 2021. Sponsorship applications already in progress may also benefit from this new regulation.

When Can I Apply?

While details on how to apply remain unclear, the government has promised to release further information over the coming days. These are important new measures by the government’s immigration authorities and as Minister Hussen states:

Newcomers who failed to declare immediate family members as they first came to Canada were barred from sponsoring them. Today, we right that wrong. No worker should fear losing their job when they are being mistreated in their place of work. No partner should be more fearful of losing their immigration status instead of escaping abuse. Today, we say, fear no more.

In other words, this is a fast-moving area and we’ll have new information on this as soon as it comes out. Please check back for details when they emerge!

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